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National Bank Open: Two Canadians left standing on Day 4 of action

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TORONTO — The undisputed Greatest of All Time said goodbye in one of her final tournaments ever on Wednesday in front of an appreciative Toronto crowd. And over in Montreal in the men’s side of the National Bank Open, the top 3 seeds also said goodbye (for now) after suffering upsets.

Now in Day 4 of action, there are just two Canadians standing in their home tournaments. Let’s take a look at the must-see matches of the day in the round of 16 (all times listed are ET).

Women’s headliner

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Bianca Andreescu (Canada) vs. Qinwen Zheng (China); Centre court draw opens at 1 p.m. and theirs is the third match scheduled.

On Wednesday night, Andreescu earned her second straight gutsy three-set victory of her home tournament, taking down Alize Cornet of France in a match the Canadian later told reporters was “very, very tough.” The Mississauga, Ont., native hasn’t had an easy road to this Round of 16, but she’s made it here thanks to her powerful groundstrokes, the broad variance in her game and a fighting spirit that’s been incredibly entertaining to watch.

Now up for Andreescu is Zheng, the 19-year-old who earlier this year reached the fourth round of the French Open before losing to the eventual champion and current world No. 1, Iga Swiatek.

This will mark the first meeting between Andreescu and Zheng. Andreescu, 22, who won this tournament three years ago in Toronto, is making her comeback this season after taking time off due to injury and a mental health break.

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Men’s headliner

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Felix Auger-Aliassime (Canada) vs. Cameron Norrie (Great Britain), not before 4 p.m.

The sixth seeded, Montreal-born Auger-Aliassime earned a two-set win over Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka on Tuesday, and fired a whopping 17 aces in the process. At one point in the match the 22-year-old Auger-Aliassime stretched out both arms and soaked up the crowd’s adoration.

And the bracket has opened up significantly for the hometown kid (his parents live about 10 minutes from the stadium), with the top three seeds dispatched on Wednesday. Auger-Aliassime will have to get past Norrie, a four-time winner on Tour, in a rematch of last week. Norrie won that one, but Auger-Aliassime told reporters he’s heading into this match with confidence and optimism. And surely a heck of a lot of crowd support.

Other highlights

Iga Swiatek (Poland) vs. Beatriz Haddad Maia (Brazil), following the 1 p.m. match on Centre Court

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Swiatek, the world No. 1, absolutely breezed through her opening match here on Wednesday, and once Swiatek gets rolling, she’s difficult to stop. The 21-year-old had an incredible 37-game, six tournament title win-streak going until Wimbledon.

She’ll face Haddad Maia, who played spoiler when she knocked out Canada’s Leylah Fernandez on Tuesday.

Nick Kyrgios (Australia) vs. Alex de Minaur (Great Britain), not before 3 p.m.

On Wednesday, Kyrgios took out the tournament’s defending champion and top seed, Daniil Medvedev, in three sets. Kyrgios is playing some of the best and most consistent tennis of his career, and he’s riding an eight-match winning streak.

He’ll take on de Minaur, who knocked off Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the first round. It marks the first-ever meeting between the two players.

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Full women’s schedule in Toronto

https://nationalbankopen.com/scoring/order-of-play/

Full men’s schedule in Montreal

https://nationalbankopen.com/scoring/order-of-play/?association=atp

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Erik Jones, driver of the No. 43 car, has run well this year, and Noah Gragson will join the team next season, Bob Pockrass writes.



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How Field of Dreams gets to the heart of its small-town home

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When Jeff Jacque was mulling a move into politics last summer, it was baseball that gave him the final push he needed.

Having recently retired from the family business — a furniture and floor covering store — the Dyersville, Iowa, resident was looking for something to occupy his time. Jacque had some conversations about potentially running for mayor of the city with a population of just over 4,300, but wasn’t immediately sold.

Dyersville is famously known as the location of the 1989 film Field of Dreams, a seminal baseball classic starring Kevin Costner and the late Ray Liotta. Last year, Major League Baseball commemorated the film and city with its first MLB at Field of Dreams game, a regular-season contest held at a baseball field built in a cornfield next to the movie location. Jacque didn’t have tickets to the inaugural game between the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox, so he decided to stroll down to a massive viewing area that was set up by city officials just a block away from his house.

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When Jacque arrived, he began to chat with fellow Dyersville residents and noticed a palpable excitement as everyone gathered around the big screen. It was the first MLB game played in the state of Iowa and brought with it a wave of joy, positivity and tourism to the city.

Jacque saw all he needed that night and his decision was made.

Today, the 66-year-old is officially Mayor of Dyersville after winning an election last November. He is set to preside over the second Field of Dreams game, which takes place Thursday when the Chicago Cubs take on the Cincinnati Reds.

“There’s a lot going on,” Jacque says with a laugh.

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Born and raised in Dyersville, the mayor remembers what the city was like before it was made famous by the movie. And according to Jacque, there’s no difference: it’s the same place, only with more tourists.

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“Our community hasn’t really changed and the city itself hasn’t really changed,” he says. “We’ve grown a little bit in population — by a few hundred people — but that’s it.”

Jacque compares the town to Mayberry, the fictional, tranquil community from the popular 1960s sitcom The Andy Griffith Show. It’s a place where nearly everybody knows each other, and residents exude trademark Midwestern values — humility and a strong work ethic.   

While Field of Dreams didn’t fundamentally change the small city, it did serve as an accurate snapshot of its history, says Jacque, noting that many of his friends appeared in the film as extras.

“I don’t think I ever get tired of watching the movie,” he says. “There are scenes from the local spots and we’ll watch it and say, ‘Oh, I remember where that road is,’ and, ‘They filmed that over here.’

“Some of the original ghost players [in the movie] are still friends of mine,” he adds.

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As the film gained worldwide popularity, Jacque had a firsthand look at how his city has transformed into a magnet for tourists. He often makes a point to speak to visitors and has come across people from as a far as the United Kingdom and Japan, all seeking to make a baseball pilgrimage and play catch or run the bases on the original diamond from the film. He is proud that Field of Dreams offered the world a glimpse of life in Dyersville.

Last year, Costner returned to the city and was part of a beautiful ode to the film when he led the Yankees and White Sox onto the diamond, emerging from the cornfield just behind the outfield wall.  

This year, MLB says it has planned new ceremonies that will “celebrate baseball’s ability to link generations.” The Cubs and Reds will wear custom uniforms inspired by those worn in the early 20th century. There is also a minor-league game and a softball game, along with some parties and events scheduled throughout the week.

Once the hoopla is over and the baseball world turns its focus away from Dyersville, changes will commence in the city. There are plans to build a training complex for youth teams on the movie site, as well as a new stadium and hotel. Jacque says once all of that is complete, the city projects to generate about $32 million per year in direct spending.

Some of that revenue will potentially be used to build a new splash pad, renovate the city square and upgrade the fire station and police equipment. Baseball is responsible for giving the city all that and more, while it’s also responsible for helping guide Jacque on his new journey in life.

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“I tell you what, I’m absorbing all this right now because I never imagined a year ago I would be in this position,” he says. “So, it’s so rewarding for me.”



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